Washington, 21 September 2017
At the invitation of Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution, President Kagame today delivered a talk at the institution titled: “Flagship Reforms for a More Effective African Union: A Conversation with Rwandan President Paul Kagame”
President Kagame kicked off by telling the audience that a more effective African Union was not only good for Africa but for everybody else as well and that This was the reason the discussion came at the right moment.
“Let me share a bit of background with you. You may know that the African Union is mostly financed by external partners. In fact, our programmes are in the range of 97 per cent donor-funded. This reality makes no sense for anyone involved. Africa’s interests, including ownership, get lost; and I doubt that the interests of donors are being adequately addressed either.”
President Kagame observed that the rapid changes taking place in the global economic and political environment made plain the recklessness of relying so heavily on sources of funding that are likely to dry up sooner rather than later. “Even when they still exist, they are tied. Meanwhile, Africa has the means to pay for programmes that we value and we should do so. Two years ago, in this context, African Heads of State appointed Donald Kaberuka, who is here, assisted by Acha Leke, who I have also seen around, Carlos Lopes, and others, to identify alternative sources of funding for the African Union, as well as its new Peace Fund.Their proposal, which was adopted at the Kigali Summit in July 2016, was to institute a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports to finance African Union activities.”
President Kagame said the decision immediately brought the African Union’s effectiveness and capability into sharp focus.
“We simply had to make it work. After all, when it’s your own money, you naturally want to be sure it’s being well-spent. As a result, I was tasked by the Heads of State to supervise the completion of the stalled institutional reform process and submit a plan of action at the next Summit.”
President Kagame said that his first response was to ask for help from a team of distinguished experts from around our continent, and that their method was not particularly novel:
“We built on the work of others and consulted widely with stakeholders all over Africa. We found that the African Union’s problems had already been analysed in meticulous detail over the years, and good solutions identified. The report made to the Assembly of Heads of State in January 2017 presented the most relevant and urgent recommendations, grouped into five reform areas.”
President Kagame stated that the recommendations were adopted, more or less in full, and now serve as the basis of the reform agenda being implemented by the new Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and his team.
“What should never get lost is that we are working together in good faith, for the benefit of everyone, and with renewed determination, to build a more stable and prosperous world.”
The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC., whose mission is to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level.